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Protester Crashes Bus Into Main Gate of Parliament

January 21, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ A bus driven by a member of a right-wing protest group crashed into the main gate of the parliament building Sunday and burst into flames. No one was injured and police guarding the building arrested the man at the scene.

There were no passengers on the bus, but there were several plastic containers filled with gasoline that ignited after the crash, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The bus driver said he was a member of Kominto, or Imperial Subjects Party, which has been campaigning against an unpopular government plan to use public money to help bail out bankrupt housing loan companies. The name Kominto was painted on the bus.

Police quoted the man, identified as Kazuyuki Tsuchida, 32, as saying he ``wanted to do something because the parliament session opens tomorrow.″

The session is likely to be dominated by debate on the bailout plan.

Police arrested two other members of Kominto last week for blaring slogans protesting the plan through loudspeakers in front of the Finance Ministry.

Japan has a small number of extremist groups that often cruise city streets in large vans, blaring martial music and declaring nationalist slogans from powerful loudspeakers.

On Friday, the Finance Ministry tried to ease criticism of its bailout plan for housing lenders by releasing a report with details on the $76 billion worth of loans that went sour.

But many called the disclosure insufficient to gain public acceptance of the plan to use government money to help the institutions, which invested heavily in speculative real estate deals during the late 1980s.

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